Let’s face it: Not everyone has time to whip up a full Seder dinner for their ten closest relatives. Thankfully, a number of Washington restaurants and markets put together menus for the holiday, offering everything from a traditional multi-course meal to Manischewitz sangria at the bar.
In keeping with the new-wave deli theme (cocktails! House-made everything!), the Dupont restaurant offers a modern Seder menu. Grab friends, a date, or your bubba for house-made matzo soup with bone marrow, bitter-herb-crusted halibut, braised lamb, and an assortment of interesting beverage pairings (never started Seder with sherry? Now you can).
Details: Monday, March 25, through Sunday, March 31; $40 per person, with a $20 pairing option.
This year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival season kicks off March 20. And you know what that means: plenty of cocktail and food specials to celebrate the occasion. Read on for drinks and eats making use of the pretty pink fruit. Offers are available throughout the festival—from March 20 through April 14—unless otherwise noted.
The deal: This Balkan-inspired Barracks Row restaurant will offer a special dessert prepared by pastry chef Danilo Bucan: a cherry and Valrhona chocolate cake made with cherry foam and served with micro basil, for $5.
The deal: Take a break from Assaggi’s exceptional mozzarella platter and instead try fresh new dishes and desserts created by chef and owner Domenico Cornacchia. They include fresh oysters with frisée salad and cherry vinaigrette; beef carpaccio with watercress salad, mascarpone cheese, and candied cherry; tagliatelline pasta with braised venison ragout and crumbled cherries; pan-seared duck breast over parsnip purée and cherry demiglace; and poached Atlantic salmon with rainbow cauliflower and cherry tapenade. Dishes range for $11 to $31. For dessert, there’s cherry cheesecake with pineapple salad and salted caramel sauce.
Toast the 101st anniversary with the Assaggi Jubilee ($13), made from a combination of cherry vodka, triple sec, and crushed fresh cherries and topped with Prosecco.
Scrambling to get your Valentine’s Day plans together? Well, we have good news for all you Washington procrastinators—quite a few restaurants still have reservations available, especially if you’re willing to dine early or late. So before you resign yourself to takeout on Thursday, check out these restaurants for last-minute romantic dinner plans. For more details about special menus, prices, and more, see our full Guide to Valentine’s Day Dinner in Washington.
Some people think about what beer and wines to pair with their food every day. Others think about it, like, once a year—on Valentine’s Day, for instance. Whichever side you fall on, this list should help you find something to drink alongside that extravagant home-cooked feast.
We dreamed up eight Valentine’s Day menus—all of which, given a little preparation and patience, are totally doable at home. Then we challenged Greg Engert and Brent Kroll—the lead beer and wine experts at the Neighborhood Restaurant Group (Birch & Barley, Evening Star Cafe, Vermilion, and more)—to come up with suitable pairings for each. They went above and beyond with some inspired choices to ensure your February 14 dinner really stands out. Call the fine wine and beer store near you to find out if they stock the selections below—then get cooking.
You’re cooking: A classic beef bourguignon.
Greg suggests: Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien, Brasserie Franches-Montagnes, Switzerland
This annually released ale is composed of strong, soured red ales aged in countless wine and spirit barrels, then masterfully blended. What results is a vinous brew, one that dovetails with the red wine braising liquid. The acidity of Bon-Chien—which digs into the stew—is balanced by toasty, oaky sweetness that mellows the tang of the garlic and herbs while complementing the rich flavors of the braised beef.
Brent suggests: 2003 Chateau Musar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
With a dish like this, it’s easy to lean toward Rhone or Bordeaux varietals. This wine is a blend of both that has bottle age, earth, very ripe fruit, and spice. Although the dish originates from Burgundy, it’s a little strong for most Pinot Noirs. The Musar is tailor-made for the weight and secondary notes of mushrooms, onions, and garlic usually found in the dish.
You’re cooking: Filet mignon with mashed potatoes and braised greens.
Greg suggests: Ayinger Celebrator, Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer, Germany
As filet mignon is a lean cut with restrained flavor intensity, I like a brew that is potent yet composed, bold without being big. Doppelbocks, like Celebrator, offer just the right amount of dark bread, toffee, and candied fruit to simultaneously sauce the dish and echo the caramelized (i.e., seared) exterior of the steak.
Nothing says “I love you” like a really good whiskey cocktail, an idea put into practice at the Four Seasons, which recently ran its first live virtual drinks class. Bartenders from the tony hotel chain’s various bars—Cory Cuff from St. Louis, Adrian Ross-Boon of Wit & Wisdom in Baltimore—presented Valentine’s Day drinks with a rye whiskey base.
Representing DC was Bourbon Steak’s Duane Sylvestre, who got creative with a cocktail recipe “built for two” called the Adam and Eve. Sylvestre mixes two ounces of rye, an ounce and a half of Cointreau, Peychaud’s bitters, and Dale DeGroff’s pimento bitters into a glass and gives them a good stir. He divides the mixture into two glasses—a rocks glass and a Champagne flute. The Adam drink goes into the rocks glass, and the flute gets a topper of Champagne to create the Eve portion of the cocktail. Sylvestre even adds some on-theme garnishes for the occasion. There’s plenty of great technique demoed here, too, so watch on.
You’ve already starting looking outside the heart-shaped chocolate box with our earlier suggestions for unusual-yet-romantic Valentine’s Day plans. The big day is near, so you could a) scramble to get a dinner reservation like every other procrastinator in Washington, or b) get moving on an alternate path.
Go Underground, or Pop Up
Love the idea of a romantic dinner out but not so much the love-day clichés? Check out the latest in underground dining at the chic Blagden Alley Social Club, hosted in the home of Good Wood owners Dan and Anna Kahoe. Recent Top Chef contestant Jeffrey Jew prepares the intimate, 14-person meal; dishes include caviar and lobster canapés, lamb tenderloin with Israeli couscous and mint-red wine demiglace, and chocolate peanut butter pot de crème. How it works, per Anna: “We pour generous drinks; you surrender.” E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations ($150 per person).
Those looking for something (way) more casual—and who don’t mind celebrating late—can head to Birch & Barley on February 15 or 22 for a pop-up of the upcoming GBD, the fried-chicken-and-doughnuts venture from Kyle Bailey and Tiffany MacIsaac. There are no reservations, and service runs from 11 AM until the fried deliciousness sells out, so grab your loved one early to ensure you don’t miss out.
Want to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a nice dinner? We’ve rounded up spots around town offering special menus, romantically themed cocktails, and more treats to show that special someone you care enough to feed them.
Practically every restaurant in Washington offers some sort of special Valentine’s Day meal (and if they don’t, it’s still special, because the given restaurant is one of a handful not participating in the Day of Love). This sets the bar pretty high for all you romancers looking to stand out from the pack. So before you start weeding through prix-fixe menus and various promotions—which we’ll cover in full in the weeks to come—here are a few alternatives to kickstart the creative process.
Sure, oysters are aphrodisiacs, as at least one in every three Valentine’s restaurant promotion will remind you. You know what else is an aphrodisiac? Getting the hell out of town. Double up by hightailing it to Topping, Virginia (roughly two-and-a-half hours from Washington), where Rappahanock Oyster Company set up Merroir, a cozy riverside oyster house with craft brews, wines, and plenty of fresh bivalves served on the half-shell or in prepared small plates. Find a nearby Rappahannock inn, or go for a more cosmopolitan stay in Richmond, an hour away. Too much driving? The oyster company recently opened a similar eatery in the new Union Market.
For the uninitiated, January 6 is Epiphany, or King’s Day, in the Catholic Church. This is the day the three wise men (the magi) showed up in Bethlehem bearing their gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh. In New Orleans, it kicks off the famous Carnival season that leads up to Mardi Gras—the last day before Lent—which this year falls on February 12.
In Louisiana the time between Epiphany and Mardi Gras day is celebrated with a round cake covered with green, purple, and gold sugars. Sometimes the cake is made with cinnamon, and sometimes it’s stuffed with various fillings like cream cheese, fruit, or praline. It always comes with a small plastic baby inside. If you receive the piece with the baby, it supposedly means you have good luck for the day. (It really means you have to buy the next king cake!)
Meanwhile, in Northern France, Epiphany is celebrated throughout January with a cake
known as the
galette des rois (which, yes, translates into “cake of the king”). This cake is generally flaky and
almond-flavored and contains a small porcelain baby or a bean. Whichever type you
prefer, there are plenty of places to pick one up in Washington. Be sure to call ahead
to confirm availability.
Instead of agonizing over a New Year’s Eve menu this year, Eric Ziebold at CityZen did the smart thing and let his loyal diners decide. Three weeks ago he sent out a “ballot” with candidates for each of the eight courses he plans to serve on the 31st. The dozens of choices represented the most popular dishes from the acclaimed restaurant’s eight years at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
Now, we have the winning menu. The sold-out feast will set diners back $225—unless they want to add pairings by sommelier Andy Myers, which costs an additional $200.